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Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Resident (2011) - Horror Stalker

The Resident (2011) - SEE THE FILM BEFORE READING OR IT WILL BE SPOILED! This is going to be a "Spoiler filled blogpost" because honestly I just feel the need to talk about this one. Not in my normal taste in horror films The Resident although passable is that sicko psycho character thing that frankly gives me the heebie jeebies. I grew up in the city of Boston and living in tight quarters is tough enough. Hearing your neighbors fight or have sex is not endearing but part of the environment. Looking out your window and catching a flash of the girl next store as she walks across the window in her undies happens sometimes, it may be momentarily exciting but you should not be camping out there waiting for another chance. Secretly manipulating people to move into your building full of secret passages with peep holes may just be going too far. No it is going too far and if that is the line then drugging and playing with his/her past out body is just plain criminal and repulsive. In exploitation films often the horror is having a conscious victim who knows you are going to do terrible things to him or her. Tension is created by seeing the reaction to the threatened abuse, in this film it is all about the reveal that while you were sleeping horrible things were being done to you. 
 This film is all about that reveal and the turn is better than expected, but there is a wierd flaw I will discuss later. It starts as a film about Dr. Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) and her need to find a new place to live after leaving her cheating boyfriend. She is a doctor working hard in Brooklyn and not finding the best places in a city where living in a closet is expensive. Responding to a call back from Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) owner of a place right on the bridge and next to the park Juliet runs in daily she finds he has this great spacious apartment for $3800 a month. Worth every penny in fact a steal and if there is one thing we have learned through horror movies of the past, if the apartment is too good to be true, its probably sitting on a gate to hell. In this case she feels no is not an answer she can give and moves in pronto. We then get to see some creepiness and a whole lot of  the good doctor's body. The idea is to show how relaxed we are in our own spaces, stripping our clothes off, masturbating in the bath, rubbing lotion on our body anywhere in our own space. In a way it was an advertisement for the fact that Hilary Swank has a pretty smoking body. Its saying please directors you can still cast me as the young (enough) hottie, I don't have to be in the Mom role yet. Really though it is for the first reveal, the reveal that her landlord is a peeping tom behind the walls watching her.
At the same time we have been watching the two Juliet and Max connect a bit. She being on the rebound finds his attention enjoyable and he is polite and seems kind. Just when things seem to be getting hot and heavy between the two, Juliet has second thoughts and puts a stop to the relationship. She rejects him in bed and then is quick to start moving him into the friend zone. This is when the film does a really strange thing. This movie which has been about a professional woman rebounding from a cheating boyfriend shifts to a completely different story. There is a literal rewind where we see the last couple months through the eyes of Max. We quickly see the interactions and chance meetings between the two as orchestrated manipulations. How Max lured her into seeing the apartment, and made it to good to pass up. It is a weird shift taking the focus off who we thought the main character was and placing it on Max. So instead of a story about Juliet we start to see her as a victim of the strange obsessions of this man. I have to say that I was not expecting this rewind and for a second thought something was wrong with my PlayStation.
So now the second act become all about Max and his increasingly irrational behavior towards Juliet. The writers Antti Jokinen and Robert Orr wanted us to see behind the innocent mask that Max puts in front of Juliet and start to delve into the sick psyche, and escalating behavior he has when she is not with him. The film does a very good job as slowly revealing his sickness. We see him at first in the peepholes, watching Juliet prancing around in the candlelight of her apartment. She always seems to light candles instead of use electricity which makes the setting more creepy. Then there is the coming in the house and watching her sleep, a bit more wierd but not quite at the sick level to come. When we learn that Juliet is having trouble waking up on time we get the reveal about Max and his date rape drug that he is doing her with. Creep fact jumps! When we see him beat off in her tub we have seen enough but this film is not done with us yet. As Max learns that Juliet is getting back together with her ex boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace) his behavior gets even more erratic and weird. We see him drugging her, kissing her as she lay out cold in her bed, then he is under her bed licking her fingers as she sleeps. All though is now focused on Max and to be honest I don't really want to see his behavior escalate.
  The tird act shifts back to being about Juliet and how everything that has been going on is revealed. She eventual brings this all to the final sequence by doing two things, first she has blood work done on herself to try to figure out why she is sleeping so soundly, and second she has security cameras installed in her house so she can try to get rid of that feeling that someone else is there. The ex boyfriend being back has put Max into the dangerous psycho realm and now we have to have Juliet learn the full nature of the goings on so we can come to a finale. She learns she is being drugged and calls Jack to warn him away from the apartment. Always too late for those calls though in these kinds of movies so off she goes  to save him. When she gets to the apartment and sees the video of Max in her place she and we the audience get the great reveal of just how fucking sick Max is. We have seen him doing some weird shit but the video the tear filled Juliet sees shows that she is being drugged and raped by Max. Its an powerful scene before the final fight for survival which will inevitably come after such a reveal.
  The final scenes of running and hiding and fighting and dying are pretty standard fare and luckily for our main character she has the camera tapes to prove her case to the police, although that will happen after the film ends. I think I liked the way the film revealed things slowly. I do have to say though I really suspected after learning that the drugging was happening that Max was raping her in the nights. Still they had his behavior slowly escalating so the view could think he was working his way there and had not yet crossed that line. I loved the smaller role of Lee Pace as the boyfriend Jack since I have such fond memories of him from the short lived series "Pushing Daisies". Also anytime I still get to see Christopher Lee in a film I consider it a gift. He played the ill fated grandfather of Max and his death in the film was the turning point for his grandson who at that point was a killer instead of just a creeper.
  In closing there are no great apartments left in NYC so just stop moving there, its the only sound thing to do. Don't trust your landlord and by all means if you are sleeping late get some blood work done. Of course if your new place is nice and the landlord does not end up being sinister, your new place, as I said earlier, is sitting on a gate to hell so things won't be good for you anyway. Of course in horror moving to the country won't be the answer either so anyway you cut it you are fucked.

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